Notebooks Stretch Limits

With the announcement of Intel Corp.'s forthcoming 266MHz mobile Pentium chip on Jan. 12, notebook vendors -- such as Compaq, IBM, Dell, NEC, Micron, AST, and Digital -- are planning to usher in high-end systems that inch ever closer to the feature sets of desktop PCs.

With the announcement of Intel Corp.'s forthcoming 266MHz mobile Pentium chip on Jan. 12, notebook vendors -- such as Compaq, IBM, Dell, NEC, Micron, AST, and Digital -- are planning to usher in high-end systems that inch ever closer to the feature sets of desktop PCs.

Larger hard drives and screens and more memory are just some of the features they will add to their products that are scheduled for unveiling in January.

Compaq, for example, will announce several notebooks in each of its Armada lines, including the Armada 4200, a thinner and lighter version of its 4100. The 4220T will include Intel's 266MHz mobile Pentium chip, also called Tillamook, with 32M bytes of RAM, and a 4G-byte hard drive, industry sources said.

Also, Compaq will add 266MHz models to its 7000 and 1500 lines. The high-end 7792DMT will have 32M bytes of RAM, a 5G-byte hard drive, and a 13.3-inch display. The 7380 is similarly configured with a 4G-byte hard drive.

Sources said there will also be new low-end Armada 1500s.

Digital is also planning to refresh its notebook lines to include the new Intel chip in its HiNote VP 700 and Ultra Note 2000 models.

The HiNote VP 700 will include a 4G-byte hard drive, 32M bytes of RAM, and a 13.3-inch screen, and the UltraNote 2000 will feature a 4G-byte hard drive, 48M bytes of RAM, and a 14.1-inch screen. The VP 500 line will also add the 233MHz Pentium to its lineup.

Digital is also planning an overhaul of its mobile services to take place in 1998.

But as clock speed and hard-drive capacity increase, so do weight and size.

"I'm kind of concerned because I don't want so big a package in my notebook that it's like carrying my desktop around," said Frank Petersmark, assistant vice president of IS at Amerisure & Co., in Southfield, Michigan. "That's why I have a laptop."

However, in order to deal with the heat that higher clock speeds generate, notebook manufacturers need to migrate to larger form factors in order to dissipate heat.

Other vendors planning to make January announcements include NEC, which will feature the 266MHz mobile Pentium in its Versa 6260. NEC is also working on enhancements to its UltraCare services program, company sources said.

Micron will announce a high-end Transport XKE with a 266MHz Pentium, 48M bytes of RAM, and a 8G-byte hard drive, priced at US$4,799.

Micron also will announce a new thin-and-light Transport notebook in the first quarter.

IBM intends to incorporate Intel's new chip into the ThinkPad 380 series with 32M bytes of RAM and a 12.1-inch display.

Dell will be including Tillamook in its Inspiron line, and AST will feature the chip in its Ascentia M model with 32M bytes of RAM and a 4G-byte hard drive, which will be priced at less than $5,000.

Intel Corp., in Santa Clara, California, can be reached at +1 (408) 765-8080.

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